I learned something very interesting about music criticism yesterday. I don’t care much for music criticism in general for reasons that I don’t need to go into right now, but I do keep up with a select few sources that don’t just make me frustrated when I read them. While checking up on one of these main sources yesterday, I learned this about the music journalism world:
The numerical ratings of a record don’t necessarily reflect the exact opinions of the writer whose byline appears next to it. We have some input, but editorial usually has the final say.
I found this very interesting given that I would imagine that many people take into account the numerical rating of an album way more than the explanation of that rating that follows. In the case Noz was responding to in this post, he’d reviewed Fat Trel‘s newest mixtape and didn’t even submit a numerical rating with it, and the editors chose one either based on their own opinions or on what they felt Noz’s opinions were, or maybe some combination, but either way, the reviewer in this case did not supply what, for many people, is the most crucial piece of information in a music review.
Noz goes on to address the unfortunate fact that the numerical rating attached to a review (and not the body of the review itself) is what many people are most influenced by in the closing of the blog post I quoted above:
I’m as cool with a 6 as I would be with a 7. Or a 5. It’s an insignificant designation.
There’s a reason I spent hours writing a balanced, 800 word review of that record. If I could’ve said it in one digit I would’ve. Read, dudes.
I agree with this sentiment very strongly, numerical ratings for something like music has always seemed absurd to me, and I think the only difference between me and Noz in this case is that I would have stressed listening to the album in question over reading a full review of it as being of primary importance. I’m just as bothered by people being really influenced by what reviewers say about music as I am about them being influenced strongly by the numerical rating, and I wish people had the courage to make up their own minds about the music they hear rather than allowing themselves to be guided by the “experts” to form their opinions. This is not to say that Noz cares more about writing than music, that’s not a fair generalization to make based on this quote. He was asked about a piece of music criticism, so he addressed it from a music criticism perspective, and I’m sure he feels very much in favor of people listening to as much music as possible. But I do feel like a “Listen, dudes” closing might sum up my main aim in writing this blog; hopefully that comes through.